Jim Sheridan figures he’ll have some tough decisions to make in February when boys and girls swimming enters the postseason.
With swimmers being limited to two individual events and four events overall, the Columbus North coach will need to decide whether to use his top swimmers in two individual events and two relays or in one individual event and load all three relays. Either way, his Bull Frogs figure to be favorites to defend their sectional titles and place high in the state finals.
“I’d like to think that both teams can make a run at the top five,” Sheridan said. “I know we have a shot with both groups in the top 10.”
North’s girls finished sixth and the boys finished eighth at the state meet this past year. The boys enter this season ranked No. 5, while the girls are No. 8.
Junior Cody Taylor is back to lead the boys team after finishing third in the 200-yard individual medley and fourth in the 100 breaststroke at state in earning The Republic’s Athlete of the Year for Boys Swimming honors. Junior Sam Loescher took 12th in the 50 freestyle and 13th in the 100 freestyle, and senior Sam Parker was 12th in the 500 freestyle.
“It’s going to be a neat group to see if we go with three relays and one individual event or try to split our relays a little bit to see if we can score more points in the state championship,” Sheridan said. “We have three what I would say ‘top-eight’ relays, as far as how they can race at the end of the year, but I think we can have two top-eights maybe competing for a title in one or two races and another relay that’s going to be right at eighth or ninth.”
Taylor and Loescher also swam on the fourth-place 200 medley relay and fifth-place 400 freestyle relay teams at state. Junior John Rupp and sophomores Matt Freudenthaler and Zach Ziegler hope to fill in relay spots this season.
“That group is replacing a good group that left,” Sheridan said. “We broke some records last year on our team, and these guys certainly have the potential to start out and do the same thing.”
For the girls, sophomore Marah Bieger finished 26th at state in the 200 IM, and senior Rachel Sollman swam on the seventh-place 400 freestyle relay and eighth-place 200 freestyle relay teams. Senior Mackenzie Coles was on the 200 freeestyle relay team, while Bieger, senior Emma Wyke and sophomore Maddie Wyke were on the 10th-place 200 medley relay squad.
“With that group, each one of them has one really solid great race for racing for points at state,” Sheridan said. “That group can get together and do some damage in the relays. They’re going to be fun to watch.”
Emma Wyke has committed to Brown University, while seniors Jesse Freudenthaler and Sydney Jarrard are headed to Eastern Illinois. Other top swimmers are sophomore Kelcie Davie and freshmen Mackenzie Fry and Cori Taylor.
The Olympians will look to improve on fifth-place boys and sixth-place girls finishes in the North Sectional.
Junior Isaac Walling returns to lead the boys after making the sectional finals in the 200 IM and 500 freestyle. Others looking to contribute include seniors Matt Schutte, Michael Hannisch, Logan Hudson and Zack Herron; juniors Jared Bradley, Noah Clack, Grant Huffman, Aaron Walton, Seth Frownfelter and Paul Baker and sophomores JB Baxter, Charlie Rix, Jacob Smith and Liam Hill.
Frownfelter and Baker, who is out for swimming for the first time, just finished playing football after helping East to the final four in Class 4A.
“We have a good core of seniors,” East boys coach David Fribley said. “Everything is going to kind of depend on if they step up and give good leadership. The other thing it’s going to depend on is, for the season to be a real success, the juniors have to step up. If they step up and contribute majorly, it’s going to be a really interesting season.”
Sophomore Carley Fox, who could swim the 200 IM, 100 butterfly or 500 freestyle, is the top returning girls swimmer. Other top athletes are juniors Olivia Gilmore and Gayatri Mazganokar, sophomore Maggie Frazier, seniors Lauren Wirth, Lauren Brunn and Mackenzie Hammer and freshman Raegan Bradley.
“We have a strong crew back, and we have a lot of girls that want to work hard,” East girls coach Jill Arnholt said. “We’re looking to improve our record.”
The Panther boys welcome back senior Taylor Eder, who finished 27th at state in the 100 backstroke.
Sophomore Trever Wilson set a school record in the 500 freestyle in a season-opening dual meet at Columbus North. Other top swimmers are senior Keaton Douglas and juniors Mitch Deyerling, Devin Vanosdol and Skyler Moore.
“Trever right now is off to a really good start,” Jennings coach Bill Dillon said. “He’s dropping time and beating his shave-and-taper times from last year.”
The girls are led by senior Julie Doran, the school-record holder in the 200 freestyle. Dillon will also look to senior Ashley Vogel and sophomore Jaelyn Millon.
Junior Sidney Stout returns to lead the Seymour girls after finishing 30th at state in the 50 freestyle.
“That’s our goal — to get back out again in the 50 and maybe the 100 (freestyle),” Seymour coach Dave Boggs said. “We’re hoping to get maybe a relay out (to state).”
Boggs also will look to senior Mallory Stuckwisch and junior Alex Hawkins on the girls side. Top boys swimmers are junior Ethan Blackledge, seniors Sam Montgomery and Jordan Hartman and sophomore Jon Montgomery.
“I just want them to all have amazing meets at sectional and time drops and have fun,” Boggs said. “If we do that, I feel we’re very successful.”